In some countries, like Norway, the owner will annually get a sticker to place on the registration plate, if the vehicle is permitted for driving. In the United States and Canada, an annual or biennial sticker is usually applied to the licence plate, with a few exceptions. For example, the District of Columbia and a few U.S. states use windscreen stickers, and some U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions issue permanent fleet licence plates. Also, some U.S. states, such as Virginia, require that a motorist obtain a vehicle licence from the city, county, or town government in addition to registering the vehicle with the appropriate agency of the state government. Note that in British English licence is the correct spelling for the noun, and is also an acceptable variant spelling of the verb. In US English both noun and verb are spelled license.
In New South Wales from 1 January 2013, all light vehicles in NSW no longer need a registration sticker. If a vehicle registration is due after 1 January 2013, a sticker will not be issued as it is not required.
In the UK, the vehicle licence, which is more commonly known as a tax disc, comes in the form of a paper disc three inches in diameter to be displayed on the vehicle, and is evidence that the necessary vehicle excise duty has been paid for the specific vehicle. It should be placed on the left side of the windscreen if it is a four wheeled vehicle, but if it is a two wheeled vehicle then it should be placed in a holder fixed onto the bodywork.
The vehicle excise duty was introduced in 1889, and since 1920 it must be evidenced by the display of a tax disc. This paper tax disc is scheduled to be phased out and replaced by an electronic system from October 2014.
In Northern Ireland, vehicles over 4 years old require a similar format 'disc' from the DVA ran MOT test centres to show roadworthiness.
In Germany, a driver is required to carry a vehicle licence (called the 'Fahrzeugschein') containing vehicle owner data, technical specifications and car modifications. Additionally, each car has a registration plate sticker to indicate compliance with vehicle safety and emission standards that are to be checked regularly. While the vehicle licence is permanent, the sticker has to be renewed after a 1 to 3 year period, depending on the type and age of the vehicle.
In Ireland, a tax disc must also be displayed, which is of the same format as that in the UK. However, in addition, a square insurance 'disc' must also be displayed to show that the vehicle has the legally required third party insurance. Private cars over 4 years old require a similar format 'disc' from the National Car Test service to show roadworthiness.
In Malta, tax discs are very similar in appearance to their UK counterparts, and are also required to be visible on the left-hand side of the windscreen. The disc proves that the vehicle has valid insurance, and that it has passed its Vehicle Roadworthiness Test (VRT).
In Sri Lanka, a revenue licence must be displayed on the vehicle, and is evidence that the necessary vehicle excise duty has been paid for the specific vehicle. It is normally placed on the left side of the windscreen if it is a four wheeled vehicle. A revenue licence is issued for a period of one year and must be renewed annually, during which an emissions test must be performed.
- Velology – the collection of tax discs and their history and design.
- Car tax rules UK government webpage